For those who may not know, I’m a huge NBA fan (call it genes — I honestly haven’t found a single black or partially black guy who isn’t) and have been for as long as I can remember. I watched Jordan win his last few rings, make a fool of himself with the Wizards, and go on to manage a playoff franchise into the ground (see: Charlotte Bobcats). I saw Kobe falsely accused of rape, try to beg his wife not to commit divorce theft with a two million dollar bribe ring, and play out an entire season with the speculation of divorce and lifetime alimony on his head.
Suffice to say I’ve never really been a fan of any of the star players the NBA has to offer; my love affair has always been with the game itself and with my hometown team (Golden State Warriors, for the curious). Indeed, I’ve had much more fun laughing at the utter stupidity of players both on and off the court than I ever spent admiring or respecting their athletic talent. And if any of you are fans of any major American sport yourselves, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Athlete behavior vacillates between, “that was a terrible lapse of judgement” to “this man is straight retarded,” usually leaning heavily on the latter end of the spectrum. It is difficult to admire men who, whether through the supposed weight of celebrity or ridiculous amount of earnings, appear notably dumber than the viewer.
Which takes me to the case of one Mr. Lebron James.
When Lebron entered the league as an eighteen-year-old prodigy extraordinaire in 2003, he was purported to be the next Magic, the next Jordan, the next Bird, and, to be completely frank, rightfully so. The kid was ridiculously athletic (see: Bo Jackson), highly coach-able, and had a sort of on-court intuition that I’d never seen before. Unfortunately though he spent the next seven years of his career dominating the sport at higher and higher levels, I saw the same boring athletic persona I always had: same nice-guy-to-the-media attitude, fake-tough-guy arrogance on the court, and lavish but unoriginal party plus alcohol lifestyle off the court. Nothing interesting. Indeed, I imagined I would never respect him for anything beyond his athletic feats, that Lebron James The Personality would fall into the landfill along with most of the other all-stars that preceded him. That all changed one fateful Thursday evening on July 8, 2010.
For those who may live in a cave, take a minute to catch up. A quick summary of what Lebron did in so called “Decision” special: The dude bought out an hour of national television (airing his own shoe commercials during the breaks, lest you naive kiddos think otherwise), held out double middle fingers to his hometown of Akron, home state of Ohio, and essentially yelled “I’m out bitches! Fuck Cleveland! South Beach hoes, get ready to spread your legs!” In the course of the five seconds it took him to utter his “Decision”, Lebron James went from the most beloved, hyped, and lauded athlete in American sports, to its most hated embodiment of everything wrong with civilization itself. It was in this moment that I, for the first time ever, became a fan — not just of Lebron, but of any single professional athlete ever…(to be continued)